The Beginner’s Guide To Backpacking In Chile

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Safety in Chile

  • Chile is one of the safest places to travel in South America, although due caution, as always, is necessary in the capital.
  • I’ve heard of people having their phones stolen on the metro or out of their hands when walking down the street, particularly in tourist hotspots such as Bellavista, a neighbourhood in the centre of the city.
  • Outside of the capital, people are generally very friendly and keen to look out for your safety, particularly in Patagonia which is often cited as one of the safest places to travel in the world.

Transport in Chile

  • Buses are the main form of transport used by backpackers in Chile and they cost a similar amount as in neighbouring Peru, despite being a higher standard. Expect to pay around 20,000 CLP for a 12 hour bus journey. You can choose between semi cama (a seat that reclines 140˚) and cama (a seat that reclines 160˚ and which has more legroom), the latter being more expensive.
  • Internal flights are cheap, particularly when booked a few months in advance. For longer distances, it is often more economical to fly than take the bus so always do you research before buying.
  • Car rental is another possibility, although be aware that prices are higher if you plan on picking up the vehicle in one place and dropping it off in another. You also need to organise special insurance to travel into Argentina and this must be done at least a week before you pick up the car.
  • Hitchhiking is a very cheap way of travelling around the country, particularly along places such as the Carretera Austral in the Aysén Region. Young Chileans use hitchhiking or a dedo as their standard way of travelling around the country and people are very quick to offer you a lift in their cars. I’ve personally had some wonderful experiences of hitchhiking and have learnt so much more about Chile as a result.
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